You're already an entrepreneur.
Therefore, you'll understand how you can run with this information in a few minutes.
An entrepreneur to me, is simple someone who solves problems. Sure, you can put up a website and get sales with a poor quality product. I am talking about a solution that surpasses what's on the surface. In most cases it's something that makes life better for other people.
The most common unscalable thing founders have to do at the start is to recruit users manually. - Paul Graham
I like this because:
1. It's a universal truth. And I have started out like this with all of my businesses.
2. Rather than going with the flow you create the direction of your company.
3. You can learn a lot of things about your business, product, customers and passion for the problem your solving.
Why it's so hard
Most professions if you can call them that, have prescriptions for doing things. In medicine, there's the Merck Manual or Harrison's. Open it up and there you have a step by step method for treating a patients. As a founder, you're values shine through the business.
What makes this challenging is that every business is different. It's not that you are working on a different problem or some far out concept. Timing, positioning, growth, industry, experience are a smidgeon of the variables that go into creating the difference. You have to figure things out.
All of the time...
Starting a business means that you are putting something off for reward later. If you have a warm fuzzy job with a nice cubicle you're not going anywhere.
Dipti works at a Pharma company.
She went to college in New Delhi, got her Masters and taught programming for a few years.
One day, her friend told her she could work as a consultant.
Gain some experience and apply to a leading Bio-tech firm in the Bay Area.
She's made it. Her teammates become family. People are working hard with a mission.
"To change healthcare delivery and access to drugs that people need."
Dipti becomes a victim of groupthink as time goes on. She has the house, the car but something is missing. She begins to think about how she can start a business.
There's a learning curve. And I mean a STEEP Learning Curve. You'll need to learn as much as you can about sales, leadership, product, growth, etc.
So she hangs in there and rolls with the punches because she refused to take a chance.
But, you have options about the type of entrepreneur you want to be.
Many people take Dipti's route for a number of reasons.
Knowledge takes time to gain and apply. There is a cost to it.
What if you fail?
There are many types of entrepreneurial routes you can take. One option is to become a solopreneur where you can live a good life and build your business. You maintain control and you provide value to your customers.
You could start a medium size or a large business with many employees. You'll pay rent for a nice plush office and you'll have ping pong tables, vending machines and VC's to answer to.
Rather than buying into someone else's vision, set the tone. You're business depends on you so you have to choose with prudence.
Entrepreneurs everywhere solving problems
Can you imagine basing your career or skillset on a problem you're trying to solve. Some do it and succeed. Anyway, there are many problems to solve.
Here a few great ideas that people are working on now:
'We grow cells for biotech companies'
'Payroll for remote teams'
'Precision medicine for dogs that helps people too'
'The easiest way to buy and sell homes in Mexico'
'Interactive video platform for kinds media'
'Make commerce simple'
'Reimagining the sock industry with Advanced Textile Polyfiber Sock' (okay, some bias here that's CareRemote)
These companies are all solving a problem that they see. Experience has led the founders along a certain path. Problems became apparent. Some had an itch to scratch so they built something for themselves.
Businesses can be sexy or unsexy. It really doesn't matter. A few years back, digital healthcare was all the rage. It was much worse than it is now. Anyone trying to change healthcare was looked at as a savior. The problem was that the industry wasn't quite ready for change.
It was doable and many companies succeeded but, it's nothing like you're seeing today. Everyone in the space experienced the red tape and challenges with changing healthcare.
And many where in a position where they had a Digital Health Company yet, no revenue. You need revenue early on if your bootstrapped. If you're not you need some other metric like users to know that you're going in the right direction.
One of the tools that I have used is the Lean Canvas. It is a one page business plan template. It was created by Ash Maurya. The Lean Canvas was adapted from Alex Osterwalder's Business Model Canvas.
A powerful tool in the toolbox, indeed. It eliminates the need for a long, boring useless business plan.
Since we'll need to test ideas. Here's another model that can be used to help with that:
I won't fill these out right now. If you are interested in models like this reach out to us. My point here is that there are a ton of tools that you can use. I opened this article with the statement, 'You're already an entrepreneur'.
Many of us already have the basic skills that you need to succeed. You've gained translational skills in other jobs like meeting with people, planning or perhaps you've done some sales. Since, there's no script for this you also need persistence. I would describe this as entering a dark tunnel where you don't know the end. With experience it gets easier to navigate. You just know that your doing what feels right.
Titles really don't mean jack..
We live in a society where a lot of emphasis is placed on titles. 'What do you do?'
As kids we grow up with fantasies of becoming a doctor or lawyer or engineer. It's almost as though this is all that matters. Much of this comes from our parents. For many kids, there's the pressure to become someone, to make something of yourself. In 2020, it's harder than ever to decide on a career.
Well, you have to get on the bike and ride. Develop your voice. Maybe you're good at talking to people, writing etc. Everyone has a different path and you have to start riding to get there.
People go from job to job and some never are able to find something they are passionate about. I will say, that there are ways to avoid this trap.
Recently, I ran across a podcast that featured Ken Honda, who is a successful author. He writes about happiness and success. In the interview he was asked how to recognize where you belong. He mentioned that the signs are there early on in life.
If you're parents constantly told you to shut your mouth. You're gift in this case would be communication.
Or if you taught other kids about things. Perhaps, you led a group - leadership.
Passion, skills and a product or service that has demand. This triad is a good rule of thumb.
You can develop a T-shaped skill set and go deep on a topic.
Theory will only take you so far. Ground your learning in practice, in experience.
With experience you get feedback instantly and you can adjust and improve.
One of the main reasons that this line of work (I like that phrase) is so challenging is that...
there's no answer...
You create something that is part of you. It's based on your path, values and whatever has brought you to this point. Other career paths can also be challenging and some businesses are more risky than others. Restaurants for example, are very difficult. But, it's doable with the right concept and most of all with the right ATTITUDE.
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